Stratford: The American Shakespeare Theatre (1955; NR), pictured above, was destroyed by fire in January. Conceived by Lawrence Langner, co-founder of The Theatre Guild and the Westport Country Playhouse, the theater presented productions of Shakespeare works by such leading theatrical lights as John Houseman, Katharine Hepburn, and James Earl Jones. It closed after the 1982 season, and the State took ownership in 1983. Numerous attempts to re-open the theater followed but none achieved lasting success. The Town of Stratford acquired the property in 2005 and is exploring future uses for the 14-acre riverfront property. A deed restriction requires that the property remain accessible to the public.
Groton. With help from the Connecticut Trust Circuit Rider program, the city of Groton is seeking a new user for the Mother Bailey house (1782; NR), pictured below. The building is famous as the home of Dr. Amos Prentice, who tended the wounded after the 1781 Battle of Groton Heights. In 1805 it became home to Elijah and Anna Bailey; Elijah had fought in the battle and Anna helped Dr. Prentice, gaining the nickname “Mother Bailey.” The city acquired the property in 2010 and has been seeking users to preserve it. In 2016 Groton voters defeated a bond measure to fund stabilization, and in 2017 a group called the Friends of the Mother Bailey house was formed to convert the house to a visitor and historical center; however, the group has had little luck raising money. The city council voted in January to declare the house surplus property and will seek proposals for “the sale of the property to a responsible and qualified entity, preferably with experience in adaptive reuse of historic properties.” Circuit Rider Brad Schide has assisted the city with the RFP process.